Personal Food Computer

Built by Rob Collins, Derek Williams and students from the Idea Translation Lab (IE) from MIT Open Agriculture Initiative schematics (US)

The Personal Food Computer is a controlled-environment agriculture technology platform that uses robotic systems to control and monitor climate, energy, and plant growth inside a specialised growing chamber. Climate variables such as carbon dioxide, air temperature, humidity, dissolved oxygen, potential hydrogen, electrical conductivity, and root-zone temperature are among the many conditions that can be controlled and monitored within the growing chamber. Operational energy, water, and mineral consumption are monitored and adjusted through electrical meters, flow sensors, and controllable chemical dosers throughout the growth period.

Each specific set of conditions can be thought of as a climate 'recipe', and each recipe produces unique results in the phenotypes (an organism’s observable characteristics or traits) of the plants. Plants grown under different conditions may vary in colour, size, texture, growth rate, yield, flavour, and nutrient density. The Personal Food Computer can even program certain stresses, such as an induced drought or introducing certain organisms, to create desired plant-based expressions.

Food computers can be made in a variety of sizes, for production and experimentation on a wide range of scales.

PROFILE

The MIT Media Lab Open Agriculture (OpenAG) Initiative is on a mission to bring out the farmer in everyone by creating healthier, more engaging, and more inventive food systems. OpenAG is building collaborative tools and platforms to develop an open-source ecosystem of food technologies that enables and promotes transparency, networked experimentation, education, and local production. By making the science behind modern agriculture more accessible, they hope to break down the barrier of entry and put the power of food production back in the hands of the people. Rob Collins and Derek Williams are the Exhibition Technician and Technical Manager, respectively, at Science Gallery Dublin. The Idea Translation Lab is a broad curriculum elective course taught by Zack Denfeld at Trinity College Dublin.

Grow House collects a number of projects which propose to bring agriculture out of the fields at the periphery of town and into the centre of our houses, cities and factories.